Sept. 18 is International Equal Pay Day, and worldwide, many are working to bring more recognition and appreciation to the topic. According to the United Nations, the day "represents the longstanding efforts toward the achievement of equal pay for work of equal value" and continues to push against discrimination in all forms, especially against women and girls.
The estimated pay gap around the world is about 20 cents. Although closing this gap seems to have plenty of support, its execution has been slow and more difficult than previously imagined. The issue emerged as a topic of political discussion in the 1860s by women's rights activists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the fight has continued ever since.
As female students at Ohio University work toward entering the workforce, this concern is valid, as most women achieving higher-paying degrees still fall behind men when it comes to their paycheck, according to CNBC.
Baker University Center is home to OU's Women's Center, which promotes "awareness, education, and advocacy about women, gender and diversity, among faculty, staff and students at Ohio University and its surrounding communities."
Letitia Price, the assistant director at the Women's Center, spoke about the sense of community the Women's Center provides, as well as a multitude of opportunities for women to find a home in their community, better establish themselves in the future and promote equality across all areas around campus.
"We work on policies across campus that help bolster gender equity," said Price. "We work on projects that help provide more support savings, and we're working on a period project to help provide more resources and period products across our campus."
The Women's Center provides opportunities and resources on campus, including the AAUW Start Smart Salary Negotiation. This workshop assists participants in their initial salary negotiation and is one of the many factors at OU in fighting the wage gap. The next workshop is scheduled for Nov. 30 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The workshop is free for anyone planning to attend.
The workshop starts with a discussion about the gender wage gap and why people should recognize its importance. Attendees are given a workbook full of details on navigating the salary conversation. The workbook can be taken home after the workshop ends. Lastly, the workshop allows attendees to roleplay a scenario where they can practice the negotiation of their salary.
This workshop is an excellent resource for those joining the workforce or simply those wanting a bit of practice. The workshop exemplifies OU faculty and staff taking action and finding solutions to the gender wage gap this International Equal Pay Day.
"I think having these days helps to continue that message in a very national, international perspective," said Price. "It gives you an opportunity to raise awareness again and let people know the work that you're doing."
Demi Ward, a junior studying sociology and criminology, works at the Women's Center and is a big advocate for gender equality across all aspects of life.
"I think it's crazy that in 2023 we still have to fight for those types of equal rights," she said. "It shouldn't have come to a point where it had to need a day. I'm glad that it has the day and it's getting the recognition that it deserves, but I feel like it's disheartening that it even had to get to that point where women felt like they had to fight to get the same amount of pay as everyone else."
Ward believes the day has not accumulated enough noise, and that people are fearful to confront the topic and constantly try to sweep it under the rug. She said the day needs more traction as the issue is prominent in the modern age.
Londyn Herbert, a freshman studying psychology, believes that although she is just beginning her college career, the gender pay gap is an issue that can affect her in the future. She also believes people need to get louder.
"Social reform isn't really going to happen unless people are pushing for it," said Herbert. "It doesn't just happen, especially in big corporations, (they) don't want to pay anyone more, especially not women. So you have to push for that."
Alivia Burns, a freshman studying music production, said the world needs to expand its focus to every group of people affected by the issue.
"Pay more attention to the minority groups in general, women and also people of color and people with disabilities and everything," she said. "Fix pay gaps, you know, make the holidays – like today – more well known."
International Equal Pay Day is a prominent day around the globe that students and faculty at OU believe deserves more traction and even more action.
"Don't stop fighting for something that you believe is right, because you're always going to run into problems," said Ward. "You're always going to run into people who don't agree with you, but I don't think that should discourage you. Even if we have to fight about it until 2050, I still feel like it's a fight that should be fought. Because the only way the world is going to hear you is if you just keep making noise and if you just keep pressing the issue."